Does your love stink too?
Sometimes the words just won’t come…
The last few months have been hard. I have wanted to say so much but the words just wouldn’t come out the right way. God has been working on my heart.
Henri Nouwen once said, “The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven everyday, every hour increasingly.”
This truth has knocked me off my feet. I have been wrestling with this and it hasn’t been pretty.
We think we love well but then hurt comes along and we realize that maybe we were just going through the motions. I think most of the time I love conditionally. Yep, I said it…it actually hurts to admit it. As much as I would love to say that I love all people for who they are and I love them without expectations, I don’t.
You might be a poor lover if you get upset when you don’t get your way.
You might be a poor lover if you don’t like it when someone questions you.
You might be a poor lover if you get angry because people don’t like they way you do things.
You might be a poor lover if you don’t try to understand someone’s point of view.
You might be a poor lover if you talk more than you listen.
You might be a poor lover if you ignore people and stick your head in the sand when there is a problem.
You might be a poor lover if you think people should be just like you and think just like you.
You might be a poor lover if you try to control people and situations.
You might be a poor lover if you approach people and situations with a list of unspoken expectations.
I love it when people agree with me. I love it when people value me. I love it when a person’s actions and his or her words match up. I love it when my kids follow directions the first time I give them. I love it when God gives me what I ask for or what I think I deserve.
But I get upset when people disappoint me. I get angry when someone lies to me. I get frustrated when someone says one thing and does another. I feel hurt when people use me and don’t value my heart. I get annoyed when people don’t agree with my point of view. I feel crazy when I have to repeat myself to ask someone to take out the trash. I feel sad when God doesn’t answer my prayers in the way that I hope.
How often do I say something unkind about someone because I don’t like his or her actions? How often do I say something hurtful to my husband or my kids? How often do I keep a mental list of wrongs in my life?
Too often…and that is not love.
I don’t freely love the good, the bad, and the ugly in others or in myself. I don’t love unconditionally. I don’t always love myself or others without a secret list of expectations.
True love requires forgiveness. Forgiving others for their weaknesses and forgiving ourselves too is essential if true love is really going to be obtained. Loving and liking are different. I don’t need to like something to love it.
Unconditional love means letting someone be who God created them to be and loving them warts, wrinkles, and all because that is the kind of love that I want from others. I don’t want to apologize for my strengths or my weaknesses. I don’t want to hide my struggles. I want to share them and work through them and if toes get stepped on along the way, I want to forgive and be forgiven. I want to accept and be accepted.
Love is a gift. It is given freely with no expectation of something in return.
I want to be a better version of me and help others become a better version of themselves too.
I want to love people better, bigger, bolder, and completely. I have learned that this kind of love isn’t possible alone. Only God can create this kind of love in a person’s heart and have that love shine bright.
I don’t like what I see in myself or others all of the time but I am learning to love what I see because we are all a work in progress.
Donald Miller wrote that “90 percent of people’s problems could be prevented if they’d chosen healthier people to give their hearts to.” I want to be that kind of person…the person that someone could give their heart to. No matter the circumstance, I want to be the kind of person that leaves someone’s heart in better condition than when I found it.
Today and everyday, my prayer is that I will love myself and people just as we are…imperfect, beautiful, messy works in progress.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 4-7
Jesus is that kind of love. There is hope for my love to smell sweet. More of Him and less of me.
With love from South Africa,